Secure Code Warrior

Where does secure code sit on the list of development team priorities?

For the 2nd year, we partnered with Evans Data Corp. to conduct a comprehensive survey of the global developer community related to the skills, perceptions, and behaviors when it comes to secure coding practices, and their perceived impact and relevancy in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). The results were quite surprising in a lot of ways.

The growing number of cybersecurity attacks, as well as their increased sophistication, has fueled change in every sector and industry around the world. Everyone is trying to “shift left,” putting security into all of their processes and procedures as early as possible. The situation has even fostered entirely new movements meant to improve cyber defenses like DevSecOps, where security is built into the very fabric of creating new software and applications. 

Many of these shifts are landing at the feet of the developer community. Because they are the ones who create, write, and code new software and applications, asking them to adopt more secure coding practices seems like a great idea. After all, you can’t shift left any farther than when new applications are first created.

But how does the developer community feel about that responsibility? Having traditionally been evaluated almost exclusively based on how quickly they could code, what do developers now think about their new role as security champions? And do they feel like the management at their companies are supporting those efforts with quality training, enhanced rewards, and the recognition they deserve for taking on this critical new responsibility?

For the 2nd year, we partnered with Evans Data Corp. to conduct a comprehensive survey of the global developer community related to the skills, perceptions, and behaviors when it comes to secure coding practices, and their perceived impact and relevancy in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). The results were quite surprising in a lot of ways.

The State of the 2022 Developer-Driven Security Survey  

The Secure Code Warrior State of Developer-Driven Security Survey was conducted by Evans Data Corp in December of 2021. Questions about software coding, security awareness, training, support, motivations, and other issues were asked of 1,200 active software developers working in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America. The survey was given in English and translated when needed to obtain an accurate global perspective. Survey respondents included developers who are creating new applications as well as managers from within the development community.

Some Surprising Findings

A detailed white paper (The challenges (and opportunities) to improve software security) and report  (The state of developer-driven security, 2022) that delves into every aspect of the survey will be released on Monday 11th April. The whitepaper includes our analysis of the findings and concerns raised by the community regarding secure coding practices, with recommendations for organizations to empower developer teams to improve software security. 

Some of those challenges are likely to raise questions for anyone working with developers at their organizations as well as those who are within the development community themselves - they certainly did for us. 

For example, just 14% of respondents listed application security as a top priority today. Instead, more traditional metrics such as application performance and the prioritization of features and functionality remained their overall focus.

Security had such a low priority that 67% of developers surveyed admitted that they routinely left known vulnerabilities and exploits in their code. They did that either because of tight deadlines, prioritizing functionality over security, or because they simply did not have the required training or knowledge about how to fix security problems.

In many cases, developers stated that their organizations did not define what constituted secure code, and did not provide adequate training or support to change that situation.

However, despite some of the negative findings, it was also clear that attitudes are changing. A large majority of developers (66%) expected security to become more of a priority over the next 12 to 18 months, while 82% of hiring managers who took the survey expressed an interest in hiring developers who knew security over those who did not.

While it's clear from the survey results that the developer community and the organizations they work with are facing a tremendous amount of change, plans for the near and long-term future are thankfully also rapidly taking shape.

Stay tuned for the whitepaper and report detailing the complete survey results as well as expert commentary on the challenges around current secure coding practices, and the opportunities that organizations can embrace to improve developer security skills - and ultimately software security.

Check out the Secure Code Warrior blog pages for more insight about cybersecurity, the increasingly dangerous threat landscape, and to learn about how you can employ innovative technology and training to better protect your organization and your customers.